This is a partner series to our Retro Let's Play FAQ, aiming to assist people finding ways of playing old games from these old systems. All talk of resolutions, PAL vs NTSC and upscaling are covered in the Retro Display Solutions thread. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or "SNES") was first released in Japan as the Super Famicom (the successor to the Famicom - or "Family Computer") in 1990. North America got their NTSC version (similarly named as a successor to the "Nintendo Entertainment System", or "NES") in 1991 (with an ugly square box exterior, and horrible purple buttons). Europe, Australia and other regions got their version in 1992 in the same colour/design scheme as Japan, but with 50Hz output for PAL TVs (resulting in game slowdown for most titles compared to 60Hz NTSC - see the videos below). This system competed directly with other Fourth Generation video game consoles such as the Sega Megadrive / Genesis, NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16, and SNK Neo Geo. PAL vs NTSC Modern 3D games are timing based - events happen on an internal clock, and are "sampled" many times per second as they are drawn. Regardless of the frame rate, events happen at the same time, just at more or fewer frames per second. Old 2D consoles are instead frame based. What that means is that the game logic, animation speed, and internal processing are all hard-locked to the frame rate as the clock. So unlike a modern 3D computer where 5 minutes of game takes 5 minutes whether it's 50FPS, 60FPS or 120FPS, an old 2D console will take 2.7 minutes to play 10,000 frames at 60FPS, or 3.3 minutes at 50FPS. As this sets the rate for all calculations, the gameplay and even music will slow down as a result. Like most 16 bit consoles, PAL systems run at 50Hz compared to their faster 60Hz NTSC versions. Additionally, PAL's 288 progressive line resolution mean that 240 progressive line games from NTSC regions appeared squashed. A handful of games were either designed/developed in PAL regions (e.g.: French developer Delphine and their games "Flashback" and "Another World") or sped up to play at a similar speed to their NTSC counterparts (e.g.: Super Mario Allstars). But for most games, the black borders at top and bottom of the screen, along with slowdown were very apparent for PAL gamers. Watch the following video for a comparison. As a result, often sourcing NTSC consoles is desired to experience games "as they were intended". Playing the original system today The SNES is still fairly available to purchase second hand today, although like all things retro the price is rising. Each revision of the SNES employs region protection, which prevents cartridges from one region (broadly speaking, NTSC-J (Japan), NTSC-U (North America), PAL (Europe/Australia)) from working in another console. Not all games had region protection, but it's safer to assume all do. Converters exist that put an inline "CIC lockout chip" that can pretend to be other regions (often referred to as a "Super CIC"), as do most flash carts and clone carts (see below). A word of caution: the PAL SNES oddly takes a 9V AC power pack - identical to the PAL NES, but different from almost every other console of the same generation that took a DC power pack. The US SNES and Japanese Super Famicom both took DC power packs, so don't go putting a mis-matching power supply in your current console, otherwise you can cause damage. Spare parts, cables and power supplies are pretty easy to find. Worth buying from reputable vendors instead of Chinese sellers on eBay: https://www.retrosales.com.au/collections/snes Several models of the SNES exist within each region, including a "SNES Junior". Internally, the revisions commonly referred to are the "2-chip" and "1-chip" variety, with the latter, newer, "1-chip" being more sought after for cleaner video and audio (although some models sacrifice native RGB output, and need modding - see below). The SNES puts out a native 288p @50Hz mode for PAL, and 240p @60Hz, although worth mentioning that the sync rate is ever so slightly off, which can interfere with making the picture work on some TVs and via certain upscalers. If you're technically inclined, this thread on shmups.com covers the details, and the ongoing technical investigation and modification people are trying to solve the problem. The original models of the SNES in all regions supported CVBS, S-Video and RGB (via SCART) video output, with each one being an improvement on the one before it for image clarity (although each becomes slightly more difficult to connect to TVs, generally due to how common the connectors were). Like all retro consoles, many cable manufacturers exist that vary greatly in quality - some have barely any internal shielding, and end up with noticeable image ghosting or an audible "hum" in the sound output. Two verified excellent quality cable manufacturers are: Retro Gaming Cables (UK): https://www.retrogamingcables.co.uk/nintendo/super-nintendo HD Retro Vision (USA): https://www.hdretrovision.com/snes/ Note that the HD Retro Vision cables include an internal RGB->YPbPr colour space transcoder, enabling the SNES to connect to a component input television or upscaler, despite the SNES not supporting that feature natively Official re-releases Nintendo have a few methods of buying SNES games today, and as always it's worth purchasing just to remind vendors that retro gamers exist, and are a valid market. The (mouthful) "Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System") is a small officially emulated SNES in a cute miniaturised casing, and includes 21 built in games. OCAU thread: https://forums.overclockers.com.au/threads/snes-mini.1220186/ Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_NES_Classic_Edition Nintendo offer a "Virtual Console" service for Wii (now shut down), WiiU (still active, although it might be difficult to add money to the store now), and for the New Nintendo 3DS and 2DS (emphasis on the "New" model designation, as the original 3DS/2DS had less powerful hardware, and didn't support SNES games). September 2019 update: Nintendo announced in their "Nintendo Direct" presentation that SNES games will be added to the Nintendo Switch Online setup. Anyone with a monthly subscription to Nintendo Online will have access to a growing list of NES and SNES games, including local and online multiplayer and rewind features. Hardware modding Modding a SNES or Super Famicom requires some moderate to advanced soldering and electronics. There are several mods available. A common one desired by PAL gamers is a 60Hz mod, removal of region protection, and even S/PDIF digital audio output. Good guides here: http://retrorgb.com/snes.html http://www.mmmonkey.co.uk/category/nintendo/snes/ Other mods include video amplification of certain models (the 1-chip / Junior / Mini (not Mini Classic)), which are only needed for models that don't support native RGB over SCART: https://voultar.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=51 Flash, reproduction and clone carts An excellent way to play SNES games on original or clone consoles is via flash carts. These allow software to be flashed (sometimes one at a time, sometimes dynamically from an SD card) and played from the temporary cartridge. Newer model flash carts even support addon chips like the SA-1 (for Super Mario RPG) and Super FX (StarFox/StarWing). There are many makes and models, but the most popular by far are the Krikzz family of flash carts. Krikzz includes a "Super CIC" chip in each cartridge, enabling games from any region to work on any console, even if the original was region-locked (great for playing import or Japanese-only games on PAL systems): https://krikzz.com/store/ Additionally, many clone carts exist. These are good if you know how to look out for them - but can be bad if sellers on eBay are selling them at genuine cart prices. So if you're buying genuine games to collect, be wary. https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesal...e_id=AS_20180822042402&SearchText=46+pin+game https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesal...e_id=AS_20180822042650&SearchText=16+bit+game There are also a number of people make more expensive reproduction carts, often focussing on community game hacks, or combinations of games mashed into carts with custom chips like the SA-1 or SuperFX: https://www.retrocircuits.com/product-category/super-nintendo/ http://melbourneconsolerepros.com/index.php?cPath=23 Clone consoles (non-FPGA) Like many older consoles, clone consoles for the SNES exist. Worth noting that these almost all have issues with either sound or video quality. For a quick nostalgia hit if you're not fussy, they're generally OK. But if you're seeking an authentic gaming experience, they're not up to scratch. Review of an example unit here, with good detail of the faults: Clone consoles (FPGA) FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips are a special type of chip that can be dynamically "programmed" to behave like other chips. These are now fast enough and have enough capacity to simulate the behaviour of old retro consoles in entirety, and remove the inherent "lag" many emulators introduce by the simple nature of running on top of a guest operating system and all the complexities and layers it introduces. It's worth remembering that FPGA systems can have "bugs" (inaccuracies in their simulations) compared to normal hardware, particularly when complex or undocumented hardware is being cloned. However currently the very excellent "Analogue Super Nt" FPGA clone console, created by the very brilliant "Kevtris" can be purchased, and has proven to be extremely accurate when played side by side with a genuine SNES. As the hardware can be dynamically programmed, updates have been made available to squash any remaining bugs. Unfortunately the device is quite expensive. However with additional features like native HDMI out for crystal-clear digital video and audio, internal upscaling for modern HD TVs, and sync fixes for the above-mentioned "SNES sync jitter" as well as fussy HD TVs, this device is considered the absolute best way to enjoy SNES games on modern TVs. The device also works perfectly with any cartridge that an original SNES supports, including Krikzz flash carts. It also is region-free, enabling you to play games from anywhere in the world. Official site: https://www.analogue.co/pages/super-nt/ MLIG video review: The MiSTer FPGA project also now has a functioning SNES core. See the OCAU thread here: https://forums.overclockers.com.au/...r-console-arcade-hardware-simulation.1253887/ Emulation The SNES is one of the trickiest 16 bit consoles to emulate. With a wide array of chips inside that all require complex synchronisation, "perfect" emulation is almost impossible. Note too that all emulation has a very slight amount of lag (typically noticable in a frame delay from button input to video output) due to the way modern computers work, and their complex software layers and non-realtime hardware access. For many games, however, this lag is within acceptable ranges (1-2 frames) so that they can still be enjoyed. The current gold standard for SNES Emulation is Byuu's "Higan". It includes several modes - "accuracy", "blend" and "performance", with the first being as accurate as possible, and each subsequent mode sacrificing certain non-game-breaking accuracy features to run more adequately on slower hardware. If using Higan, it's worth testing each version with framerates displayed (aiming for 60FPS in NTSC mode, 50FPS in PAL mode), and going for the best option your hardware can handle: https://byuu.org/emulation/higan/ For RaspberryPi / RetroPie owners, there is an emulator based on original bsnes code (sister project to Higan) called "mercury-bsnes". This is available as a core for RetroArch (available on almost any PC hardware, as well as RPi hardware and various RetroPie/Lakka style Pi images). It takes futher optimisation shortcuts to attempt more reasonable performance on slower hardware like the Pi. Worth noting that audio particularly takes a hit on the less accurate versions, which is a real shame given the amazing sounds a real SNES can spit out.